Pacemaker surgery is a procedure where a small battery-powered electronic device called a pacemaker is inserted under the skin near the heart to help it beat normally.
The surgery is performed to help treat an abnormal heart rate or rhythm caused by a number of conditions such as arrhythmias, heart attack, and heart failure. Depending on your condition, the pacemaker may be inserted temporarily or permanently.
Your doctor will recommend if pacemaker surgery is right for you. This procedure is usually performed by a surgeon in a hospital.
Risks and precautions
In general, surgery and the use of anesthesia come with some risks that are associated with factors like your health condition and what the surgery involves. Side effects are very rare but can include trouble breathing, reactions to the anesthetic, bleeding, infection, scaring, and death.
Pacemaker surgery is usually a safe procedure. However, there are some risks of complications or side effects, including:
- swelling, bruising, infection, or bleeding at the site where the pacemaker was inserted
- damage to structures near the pacemaker, such as blood vessels or nerves
- punctured lung
- puncture of the heart
It is important that you understand all the risks of complications and side effects of the procedure, and what you or your doctor can do to avoid them. Make sure that your doctor is aware of all your concerns.
Some people may experience complications and side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you after your procedure.
Before the procedure
It is important that you fully understand what the procedure involves beforehand. Ask your doctor to explain the risks, benefits, and drawbacks of the procedure, and don't be shy to probe further until you are comfortable with your doctor's responses.
Your doctor may schedule several tests for you to determine why your heart is beating irregularly. This can include electrical tests such as electrocardiograms that measure the electrical activity of your heart.
You may not be able to eat or drink before the procedure; it is important to follow the timing that your doctor recommended, otherwise you run the risk of the surgery being cancelled or postponed. In general, people are advised to not eat for 8 hours before the procedure; most hospitals ask that you do not drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the procedure.
If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications, supplements, or herbal products, make sure you inform your doctor or pharmacist. Ask them whether it is necessary for you to stop taking any of these medications and products before the procedure. It is also important to tell them if you have allergies to certain medications, bandages, latex, or have other medical conditions.
Plan to have someone drive you home after the procedure.